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The Benefits of Positive Emotions

September 26th, 2016 · No Comments

This article is in our series about increasing happiness and life satisfaction.  Many people with chronic pain can’t decrease their pain.  So another way to live a more enjoyable and fulfilling life – perhaps even more important – is to increase the positive.  That’s what we’ll be looking at in this series.

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Our brains are more likely to focus on the “negative”:

  • anxiety makes us try to prevent something harmful from happening
  • fear makes us run away or fight
  • sadness makes us try to fix a bad situation

Evolutionarily, our focus on the negative made our survival more likely – we stored enough food because we were anxious about having enough, and we ran away from the lion.

Do positive emotions help us in any way?  What do happiness, joy, laughter, and calm do for us?

Well, lots!  When feeling good, we:

  • handle problems more positively
  • are more creative
  • are more accurate in our assessment of negative information
  • have better health
  • are more productive
  • enjoy more social involvement

But don’t take my word for it.  For a week, notice what’s different when you are happy.  Are you more creative – for example, in your artwork or solving a problem?  Are you more able to look at a challenge realistically and come up with a solution, instead of getting into a downward spiral of worry?  Is your heart rate lower?  Do you hang out with friends and family more?

Investigate as a researcher would – see what you notice.

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